Like it or not, Shockey speaks only the truth

A lot of people don't like what Jeremy Shockey does, or thinks, or says. But you know what? Sometimes he says what needs to be said. Sometimes Shockey makes perfect sense and his critics are the ones who need a mirror.

The Giants had lost their fourth straight game a few days earlier. They were giving fans a disheartening deja vu of the season-ending eight-game losing streak last year. The team's strongest leader, Michael Strahan, is out for the season. Half the roster wasn't here last year. An experienced sufferer needed to be heard.

Shockey took the lead. He wouldn't earn popularity points from every teammate. So he took the lead anyway. Somebody had to. Something needed to be said. So Shockey spoke.

"I told a bunch of people, if they don't think we are still in (the playoff hunt), they can ... walk out the door and I'll pay their ... salary - I don't give a ...'' Shockey said during an expletive-spiced gathering at his locker. "The ... sideline should stand up; they should show they are in the game. Not sitting down wanting the game to be over with.''

Not that Shockey represents the voice of the locker room. He has a ways to go before earning that title. But the Giants were threatening to plummet straight into January. The locker room needs policemen to supply a forceful nudge when necessary.

The Giants are at a crossroads. They can put together a nice run, maybe even sneak into the playoffs. Or they can play scared; the way last year's team did in the end. Shockey's message was clear: Play your butts off or go the heck home. It needed to be said. It needed to be heard.

The rant provided fodder for media and fans that dislike Shockey. And there's no doubt his words were laced with personal frustration as well. Shockey's either being asked to block or getting used to another quarterback or dropping balls. His season has been a study in unfulfillment.

But Shockey has been more professional the past year or so. He has bitten his tongue when asked about being overused as a blocker. He has toned down his on-field antics.

Shockey's one of the team's most popular players among fans for a reason. They love his passion. They see how much he cares about winning.

Sometimes things need to be said inside the locker room. Sometimes things need to be said in the media to heighten the impact. Shockey spoke this past week. His teammates would be best served to listen.

Coaches to blame for injuries: The Giants should take a hard look at what's behind all their injuries. Is it bad luck? Is it too much offseason work?

A popular belief among players is that it's the game. That it is the result of immense speed colliding with immense strength. That it is 300-pound linemen who run 4.7-40s meeting up with ball carriers, or blockers.

One factor never mentioned is the role played by coaches. Injured players are being returned to the field prematurely. Amani Toomer finally acknowledged last week that he's been playing with a cranky hamstring for over a month.

And for what? His production has been poor. Logic dictates that chances of another injury will increase during competition. Logic dictates the injury would have healed faster if he took a week off. Now it looks like the hammy is going to be barking all season.

Toomer wants to play. He is a football player. He has a professional athlete's mentality. His enthusiasm and courage are noble. But in this case, the coach needed to make sure Toomer got healthy. And that wasn't going to happen on the football field each Sunday.

The final word: Ding-ding. The bell constitutes an official end to debate over whether Kurt Warner or Eli Manning should be the starting quarterback. We have all had our say - six dozen times each, by last count. Some of us have even chosen to revisit the decision after Manning lost his first two games.

A (final) recap:

Yes, Warner needed to step aside when he did. He was getting sacked too much and holding the ball too long and it wasn't all his fault but things didn't seem like they would improve. No, Coughlin didn't insert Manning to get him experience for next season. Coughlin believed Manning gave the team a better shot at winning - period. Yes, Manning has been overmatched at times. No, that doesn't mean Warner would be turning losses into wins.

Now let's get on with a far more meaningful debate: Manning, or Jesse Palmer?


Best QB? The Giants have faced four of the league's best quarterbacks this season: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper and Michael Vick. Who is the best? The question, really, is who does what the best. Giants defensive backs shared their thoughts on the best of the best.

Frank Walker on the most dangerous quarterback: "A mobile quarterback. (Steve) McNair, he's pretty good. McNabb is pretty good. Those are the ones that can move and throw. The ones that can hurt you when they are running and throwing.''

Walker on whether pocket passers are becoming obsolete: "I wouldn't say that because a pocket guy with a good offensive line will kill you too. But he needs a good offensive line.''

Will Peterson on his favorite quarterback: "You got a guy like Vick who will take control of a game. He may not throw the ball one time and he'll take the game from you.''

Peterson on the perfect quarterback: "A guy like Peyton Manning, who can you compare him to? The perfect quarterback? You probably want Peyton to run a little more. You probably want Vick to throw the ball a little bit better. Then you have to put them in the team situation. Vick, he's the best thing for (the Falcons) because he provides so much offense for them.''

Peterson on who scares him the most: "It has to be a guy like Peyton Manning. He's so accurate and he's so smart. He's a guy who will look you off one way, then go away and come back at you again. That comes with veteran savvy and confidence. He has it all.''

Terry Cousin on the perfect quarterback: "Is there anyone? A guy that does everything; makes his reads, just leads the team. He doesn't have to be spectacular. He can be a guy like Tom Brady. He doesn't turn the ball over. He leads his team. He doesn't have to be Joe Montana or Steve Young. He makes plays within the offense and leads the team down the field. A guy that moves around because he can keep the chains moving.''

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